Sandra Bland was found hanging in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas. Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson were both shot and killed in their own homes by police officers. A study shows that for years, judges in Harris County have essentially outsourced their judicial opinions to the county’s prosecutors. All the while, in Nueces County, Texans elected a reform-minded prosecutor who wears a tattoo that says “Not Guilty”. Statewide they closed eight prisons and reduced the prison population by about 11 percent since 2005.
What’s going on in Texas? How do we reconcile the continued misuse of police power and wide racial disparities in the arrest of people against the backdrop of seemingly progressive sentencing policies and the election of reform-minded prosecutors? And what lessons can Californians learn?
Join Impact Justice on Monday, November 18, for a conversation with two veteran journalists from the Texas Observer to discuss these important issues and more. This event is part of Impact Justice’s Impact/Ideas series of occasional conversations, book discussions, and panels designed to provoke fresh ideas about the future of our justice system. The conversation will feature:
- Mike Barajas is a staff writer covering civil rights for the Texas Observer. Before joining the Observer, he was editor of the San Antonio Current and managing editor of the Houston Press. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
- Andrea Valdez is the editor in chief of the Texas Observer. Previously she served as the editor of WIRED.com and Texas Monthly’s website. She wrote the book How to be a Texan: The Manual. She lives in Austin.
- Aishatu Yusuf (moderator) has focused her career on child safety, youth and adult legal system reform, child protection, and education policy. She leads Impact Justice’s California Justice Leaders-AmeriCorps project, which provides employment and training to formerly incarcerated young people while increasing awareness and access to California’s Honorable Discharge petitions process. She also serves as the senior education and re-entry policy fellow for the National Black Women’s Justice Institute.
The conversation will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Seating will be limited, so please RSVP. Light refreshments will be served.
Please join us!